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camera Photo of the Week Winners 2013

Photo of the Week >   Photo of the Week Winners 2013 >

Mother Nature is full of surprises.  This leucistic Canada Goose was spotted by Dean Stables at Newmiller Dam, Wakefield.  The colour of the body and legs is all regular Canada Goose, but at the base of the neck there should be a white patch of plumage.  On this bird it's brown.  Also the neck seems to have had a Friday afternoon paint job.  Canada geese normally have a black neck with a broad white chinstrap, but this one looks as if it have arrived at the sprayshop just as the paint ran out.
More info about Canada Geese here

Paul Shaw photographed this Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) which has been at Salthouse in Norfolk for the past few weeks.  The Sacred Ibis is native to Madagascar, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, but it's believed that this bird is likely to be one of several zoo escapees, which have now established themselves in the wild in France and Belgium.  It's an amazing looking bird but it's quite nice they're not resident here as they feed on the eggs of ground nesting birds as well as large quantities of amphibians.
More info about birds here

Beryl Ladd sent us this lovely photo of what looks like an upside-down rainbow or a smile in the sky.  It's known as a 'Circumzenithal Arc', and it occurs when sunlight is refracted through clouds (usually cirrus clouds) containing ice crystals at just the right angle.

To spot this phenomenon you need to look up high on a cold day in the direction of the sun (but not directly at the sun).  Circumzenithal Arcs are usually missed because they occur so high up.
More info about photographing clouds and winter skies here

Elizabeth Close spotted this unusual looking Coal Tit in her garden in Newry, County Down.  This is a leucistic coal tit.  Leucism prevents melanin from being deposited on feathers, and so the colours are either very pale or white.  In this case the head is brown instead of the usual black, and the body colour is off-white.
More info about colour anomalies here

This Kestrel was photographed at Colwick Country Park in Nottingham by Paul Shaw.  During the summer months you'll frequently see Kestrels hovering over grassland, surveying the ground for vice and voles.  But at this time of year there are less prey items to be found so they save energy by watching the ground from leafless trees.  Paul used a Nikon D7000 with a 500mm F4 lens.
More info about Kestrels here

This Water Vole was photographed by Gary Oldmeadow using a Nikon D200 with a 70-200 lens.  Water Voles were once a common sight along the waterways of the UK, but since the 1970's their numbers have plummeted.  Loss of habitat and predation by American Mink are the main causes of their decline.

In Arundel, West Sussex where this photo was taken these little mammals are thriving thanks to a reintroduction scheme started back in 2005.  Over 150 Water Voles were released by WWT at the Arundel Wetland Centre and they successfully bred and dispersed around the reserve and into the surrounding countryside.

More info about Water Voles here

Bev Barker got this lovely shot of a Nuthatch in Scotland.  She used a Canon 1D fited with a 100 - 400 lens.  Nuthatches are blessed with powerful little feet which enable them to walk head first down tree trunks.  They're the only birds able to do this which makes them easy to identify.  Although they're primarily a woodland species they can sometimes be tempted to visit gardens close to wooded areas with some peanuts or sunflower seeds.
More info about Nuthatches here

This photo of a Leisler's Bat was taken during a bat box check at Poker's Ley Wood, Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.  Bats are still hibernating in February, which gives licensed bat workers a chance to check inside bat boxes and get an idea of the size, and health, of the bat population.  Suzie Hill used a Panasonic DMC-TZ27.
More info about Leisler's bats here

Bill Burns took this close up of a Wood Mouse in his garden in Aberdeenshire.  Bill said he's used to seeing Wood Mice around his garden but this is the first time he's ever spotted one in the snow.  "They breed them tough up here" he said.  He took the photo with a Canon EOS 7D and a 55-250mm lens.
More info about Wood Mice here

Most Goldeneye ducks we see in the UK arrive each autumn from Russia and Scandinavia.  They're a long way from home but late winter is when they start their mating rituals.  The gentleman duck puts on a dramatic display, throwing his head back and pointing his bill skywards in an effort to attract a lady duck.  Jim Duncan photographed this one in action at Hogganfield Loch, Glasgow with a Nikon D7000 and an 80-400 lens.
More info about Goldeneye Ducks here

Little Egrets only started breeding in the UK in 1996, but already these elegant birds can be seen at many sites around the south and east coasts.  During the winter even more of these graceful white herons can be seen as other Egrets join them from the continent.  This one, which is about to pack away a good sized Perch, was photographed at Dinton Pastures in Wokingham by Steven Day.  He digiscoped the shot using a Nikon Prostaff 5 and a Coolpix P310.
More info about Little Egrets here

It's not a Zebra Crossing and it's not a Pelican Crossing, so this must be a Gull Crossing.  This photo was taken by Beryl Ladd in Exmouth, Devon.  She used a Nikon D80 Camera with a 55-300mm lens.
More info about Gulls in the Bird Section here

Dick Roberts captured this photo of some Long-tailed Tits burrowing in snow for food and a bit of shelter from the extreme March weather.  Apparently there's a hierarchy in the snow hole, with the dominant birds taking the warmer position inside, away from the wind.  Dick used a Nikon D300 + Sigma 150-500 lens.
More info about Long-tailed Tits here

Dean Eades photographed this snow white Ptarmigan on an equally snowy mountainside in Scotland.  In summer these birds have mottled grey/brown plumage to blend in with the rocks and heather, but in winter they change to this beautiful white camouflage.  Perfect for the 2013 April weather!
More info about Ptarmigan here

Paul Shaw took this cracking shot of a Barn Owl hunting at Cley in Norfolk.  Paul said he just stood perfectly still and the bird completely ignored him while he snapped away.  He used a Nikon D7000 with a 500mm F4 lens.
More info about Barn Owls here

If you've ever tried your hand at fishing you'll know that feeling of pride when you catch a good sized fish.  Imagine how chuffed this otter must have felt when he caught a 3 foot long pike!  What a whopper.  The fish is bigger than he is.  When his furry fishing otter friends saw him hauling that monster out onto the river bank they must have had more than a glint of piscatorial envy in their eyes.  The photo captures the moment when the otter clamped his jaws around those of the pike.  A sensible tactic when catching a fish that's almost 50 per cent razor sharp teeth.

Dean Eades took the photo in Norfolk with a Canon 5D Mk III and a 300mm 2.8 lens.
More photos and info about Otters here

They're at the top of the tree and the top of the aquatic food chain.  Grey Herons eat almost anything but mostly they prefer their food to be fish-shaped.  Adults will fly up to 10km to find food for their chicks and when the parent bird returns the chicks battle one another to get the first serving.

Pushing, shoving and dagger like beaks in a precarious tree top nest!  It's not perfect, but it's one way to bring up your kids.  The rivalry gets so intense they'll even push each other out of the nest, or eat their sibling if one should die in the nest!

Bob Ball sent us this terrific shot of a Grey Heron feeding her chicks on the nest.

More info about breeding Grey Herons here

These two mating toads were photographed by Rob Lawton at Messingham Nature Reserve in Lincolnshire.  Judging by the look on their faces the whole spawning thing has been an electrifying experience for both of them.  Rob took the picture on his Nokia Lumia 920 phone.
More info about Toads here

It's a bird that's heard more often than it's seen, but Dean Eades managed to get this excellent photo of a Nightingale in Lincoln with his Canon 5D Mk III.
More info about Nightingales here

This mutant of a daisy was spotted by Hannah Gostling and photographed by her father Roy.  This widescreen version of a daisy looks like three flower heads rolled into one.  A sort of conjoined triplet of a daisy.  It's the result of a process called fasciation which is thought to be caused by one of four things; genetic mutation or alteration, bacterial infection, viral infection or environmental problems such as frost damage, chemical or physical damage.
More info about wild flowers here

Dave Chojna photographed this Muntjac Deer fawn from his garden hide in Buckinghamshire with a Canon SLR.  It's mother was close by and Dave believes this fawn is about 3 months old.  Muntjac deer were originally introduced to the UK in Bedfordshire, in the 1800's and have since spread through much of England and Wales.
More info about Muntjac Deer here

This beautifully marked Adder was spotted drinking from a pond by Nik Hunt in Cuckmere Haven, Sussex.  The silver-grey colour of this Adder suggests it's a male.  The females are more brown coloured.  Adders are venomous, but they generally shy away from people and will only bite if provoked or accidentally stepped on.
More info about Adders here

It's a fly-eat-fly world.  This photo of a Large Red Damselfly was sent in by Dan Edwards from Devon.  Damselflies are carnivores, feeding on small flies, midges and mosquitoes.  They're also competent fliers and are able to catch their food while flying.  But sometimes they take the easier option of just landing on flies which are resting on leaves.
More info about Damselflies here

Kevin Ward sent us this photo of a Nursery Web Spider sitting on a bramble leaf at the Messingham Sand Quarry Nature Reserve in Lincolnshire.  At first glnace it looks quite ordinary, but take a second look at those front legs.  Notice the thinner, shorter leg?  At some time this spider has lost a leg and then managed to successfully regenerate a new one.
More info about regeneration in spiders here

Paul Shaw sent in this lovely shot of a Puffin flying over Staple Island in the Farnes.  He used a Nikon D7000 and a 70-200mm F2.8 lens.

The Puffin population on the Farne Islands took a big dip a few years ago, and the prolonged winter this year made conditions at sea very difficult for these birds.  Even though it started a little later it's hoped this breeding season will be a good one.  In the next few weeks these birds will be heading back out to sea for another year, so if you want to see them you need to be quick.
More photos and info about Puffins here

This photo of a Shotgun Fungi (Pilobolus sp.) was sent by Dr. Steven Murray who used a Canon 450D with a Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro.

Shotgun Fungi grow on animal dung, and get their name from their habit of firing spore capsules (that black bit at the top) away from the parent fungus.  The astonishing thing about this fungus is the speed with which it propels the spore capsules.  It's estimated that the capsule travels from 0 to 20mph in just 2 millionths of a second.  This is one of the fastest accelerating living things on earth.  A fighter jet pilot hurtling through the air will typically experience around 9-12 g.  It's believed the g-force on the spore capsule as it lifts off is around 20,000 g!

The reason for this impressively fast movement is to make sure the capsule lands a couple of metres away from the poop which it is growing in.  If it lands amongst clean grass it has a good chance of making its next amazing journey through the intestines of a grazing animal!
More info about Shotgun Fungus here

This photo of swallow chicks on the nest was taken by Gary Richardson in one of the bird hides at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire.  Despite the crowds of birdwatchers moving around inside the hide the parent birds were quite happy to fly in through the windows every few minutes with food for the chicks.  Gary used a Nikon D300 and a Nikon 105mm macro lens.
More photos and info about Swallows here

Stag Beetles are the largest terrestrial beetle in the UK, and sadly they're now quite scarce.  They spend several years underground as a grub, before emerging for a very short time, as a large, noisy, spectacular, adult beetle.  Their sole purpose during this short stage of life is to mate and lay eggs for the next generation.

Geoff Jones was lucky enough to witness this happening in his neighbour's garden in Hampshire.  He used a Canon 7D D-SLR and 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens... and a decorators platform to get close enough!
More photos and info about Stag Beetles here

Paul Shaw took this shot of an Emperor Dragonfly at Manor Floods, Ilkeston using a Nikon D7000 and 70-200 F2.8 lens.  The Dragons and Damsels are really enjoying the hot weather and there are healthy numbers of both on the wing at present.  These masters of the air can accelerate faster than any of todays production sports cars.  As they zip over the water at breakneck speed they curve their little hairy legs into a cup shape to scoop up small flies and midges to eat.
More photos and info about Emperor Dragonflies here

You know how difficult it can be to find a good picnic spot where there are no ants.  Well this bird has gone out of its way to actually sit on an ant nest.  The photo, kindly sent in by Sandra Monk from Sussex, shows a robin engaged in an activity known as 'anting'.

Anting is where a bird literally lays over an ant nest and fans out its wings and tail.  The ants understandably get a bit miffed at having a bird squatting on top of their home and so they start squirting formic acid at the bird.  This is exactly the reaction the bird wants, as the acid drives out irritating parasites from its feathers.
See also: Do Birds Sunbathe?

This female Furrow Orb-weaver spider is carefully watching over her young spiderlings as they scamper around the playpen she made for them.  Probably making sure they're safe from predators... like... each other.  She was photographed by Kevin Ward at Messingham Nature reserve in Lincolnshire with a Canon 600D with a Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 lens.  The Furrow Orb-weaver spider can be recognised by a bold V-shaped marking on its abdomen.

More photos and info about Furrow Orb-weavers here

This shimmering Purple Emperor butterfly was photographed by Dean Eades at Fermyn Woods in Northamptonshire.  Purple Emperors are large, beautiful and extremely elusive butterflies.  Most sightings consist of a flash of purple and black high up around the tree tops.  If you want to see them closer to earth the best time is mid-morning when they sometimes drop down to feed on dung or possibly a rotting carcass!
More photos and info about Purple Emperor butterflies here

This photo of a Magpie Moth caterpillar was sent in by Adam Harris.  It's a species which is quite common, although not often seen.  The adult moths are night-fliers, although they do sometimes show themselves during the day.  But that's usually when they've been disturbed from their roost site.

That colour scheme of black and orange spots is carried through to the adult moth.  Victorian collectors used to keep specimens with either very faint, or very bold markings, and by selective breeding were able to produce extreme variations in the markings of the next generation of moths.

More photos and info about Magpie Moths here

Mark Weir photographed this Roe Deer in full flight at the Mersehead RSPB reserve in Dumfries and Galloway.  Roe deer have a small white patch of fur on their rump, and when excited or alarmed this expands into a dazzling bright white disc of fur.  It acts as a visual warning signal to other deer nearby of possible danger.  The photo clearly illustrates just how eye-catching this can be.  Camera used was a Pentax K10D with a Sigma AF 135-400mm lens.
More photos and info about Roe Deer here

This purple coloured Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus) was spotted by Beryl Ladd in Devon.  Never satisfied with plain old grasshoppper green this species is notorious for trying more adventurous coloured outfits.  Purple is very popular this season.
More photos of freaky coloured Grasshoppers here

This young Brown Hare was photographed by Roy Flint at the Rutland Water Nature Reserve.  Roy used a Canon 7D camera with a 100-400mm Canon lens.

You can always distinguish Brown Hares from Rabbits because Hares are much larger with longer legs.  Brown Hares also have long black tipped ears and they move in a different way, with a bounding, or loping gait.  When Rabbits run they raise their tails to show the fluffy white fur below, but hares lower their tails to show the black fur on top.

More photos and info about Brown Hares
More photos and info about Rabbits here

This Wasp Spider was photographed by Phillip Hicks at Fletton Lakes underpass in Peterborough.  With its brightly striped abdomen the Wasp Spider looks as if it would be more at home in a tropical location, but in fact it's well established here in the UK.  Despite the warning colours this is not a dangerous species.  The wasp-like appearance is probably to deter predators.

Wasp Spiders are native to Mediterranean areas but have quickly adapted to our wetter climate and seem to be extending their range.  They can already be found throughout most of southern England but have recently been spotted as far north as Nottingham.

More photos and info about Wasp Spiders here

After a series of wet summers, and the arrival of a new parasitic fly (Sturmia bella) which kills their caterpillars, it was estimated that the Small Tortoiseshell butterfly population had declined by well over 50 per cent since 2003.  The future of this colourful butterfly in the UK was not looking good.  This year however sightings are up by nearly 400 per cent on last year!  Amazing the difference that a nice warm summer can make.  Rob Whyatt photographed this beautiful specimen in his garden in Crewe, Cheshire.
More photos and info about Small Tortoiseshells here

Lillian King photographed this rotund little water vole enjoying his lunch at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust reserve in Arundel, Sussex.  Water Voles feed mostly on waterside plants.  They eat grass, leaves, stems, roots, flowers and bark.  They're also particularly fond of apples.
More photos and info about Water Voles here

It's the deer rutting season, and it's the fungi season, so here's a bit of both (kind of).  This is the Yellow Stagshorn fungus (Calocera viscosa). The "viscosa" part of the name refers to the feel of the fungus which is greasy to the touch.  This one was spotted by Jenni Alexander at Thorndon Country Park, Brentwood.  She photographed it with a Nikon D4 and a Sigma 105mm macro lens.
More photos and info about fungi here

The Red Deer rut is in full swing now, and dominant stags are busy, night and day, guarding their females from the attentions of other males.  Richard Harris photographed this stag in mid-roar in Richmond Park, Surrey.
More photos and info about the Red Deer rut here

You know that really satisfying feeling you get after a large, delicious meal?  Well it looks like this Grey Seal pup is having it.

Here in the UK we're lucky enough to have more than half of the worlds Grey Seal population around our coast, and between September and November the females come ashore to give birth to their pups.  The milk they produce for their young is almost sixty per cent fat, so the pups can increase in weight by almost two kilos every day.

This portly pup was photographed by Steve Botham in Lincolnshire. 

More photos and info about Grey Seals here

Julia Bradbury sent us this photo of Harlequin Ladybirds hibernating at Chesham in Buckinghamshire.  Harlequins hibernate in all manner of sites, and at this time of year they frequently show up inside houses.
More photos and info about Harlequin Ladybirds here, and
More info about how do deal with ladybirds in your home

Just when you thought Halloween was over!  This photo of a ghostly white Earwig was sent in by Daniel Laurent.  Actually it's a normal earwig which has just moulted, but it looks pretty neat in this 'spooky' white colour.  It only takes a short while for the new exoskeleton to harden and darken in colour, so you need to be in the right place at the right time for a shot like this.
More photos and info about Earwigs here, and
More photos of strangely coloured wildlife here

This cute little Snow Bunting was photographed by Dean Eades along the Lincolnshire coast.  Although a few Snow Buntings live and breed in Scotland, the majority of UK sightings, like this one, are of birds on their winter holidays.  By February it will be getting a bit too hot for them here, and they'll be flying off back towards the Arctic Circle and beyond.
More photos and info about Snow Buntings here

That's different!  Two Treecreepers creeping up a tree together.  These two birds are probably related, because Treecreepers are not known to flock together except in family groups.  They will sometimes forage alongside other species of woodland birds but this is usually for protection in numbers.  This unusual shot was taken by Roy Flint at Minsmere in Suffolk.  He used a Canon 7D and Canon 100mm-400mm lens.
More photos and info about Treecreepers here

Steve Botham sent us this photo showing some of the wintering Whooper Swans (and resident Pochard duck) at Welney in Norfolk.  Whooper swans generally flock together on the south coast of Iceland before making the big jump across to the UK. They prefer to spend the winter here because our lakes and rivers rarely freeze over.  Estimates vary, but it's believed more than 10,000 Whooper Swans make the journey to the UK each year.
More photos and info about Whooper Swans here

Dean Eades sent us this lovely shot of a Fly Agaric fungi in deciduous woodland.  With its white speckled red caps it's widely recognised as one not to eat as it can cause hallucinations and painful stomach cramps.  Reindeer on the other hand will actively seek this fungi out as part of their diet and apparently get quite high on them.  This might possibly be the origin of the flying Reindeer story.  Dogs and cats also find the Fly Agaric attractive but it can be toxic to them.
More photos and info about fungi here

Sam Wilson sent us this lovely close up of a male Bullfinch, taken at the Old Moore RSPB reserve, Barnsley with a Canon 1d and a 100-400 lens.  Bullfinches are usually secretive birds which confine themselves to wooded areas, but in winter they're often joined by Bullfinches from northern Europe.  These migrant birds are far less shy than our own Bullfinches, and are stockier birds with more intensely coloured plumage.  You can encourage them into your garden by putting some black sunflower seeds on your bird table, or on a tray off the ground.
More photos and info about Bullfinches here

Ron Allen sent us this super photo of a newly born grey seal pup on the sand dunes at Donna Nook in Lincolnshire.  Donna Nook is a Wildlife Trust reserve, an RAF bombing range in summer and a spectacular haven for pupping grey seals and fighting bulls in the late autumn / early winter.

The pups quickly lose their yellow tinged fur and turn bright white before fattening up on their mother's milk, moulting and taking to the sea for the first time - usually around Christmas or soon after.

Ron took the photo with a Nikon D5200 and Nikon 300mm zoom lens.

More photos and info about Grey Seal pups here

Sam Wilson sent us this lovely shot of a Redwing enjoying a meal of hawthorn berries in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.  Most Redwings seen in the UK are winter visitors from Scandinavia, Russia and Iceland.  They're the smallest thrush you'll see in the UK and can be recognised by the orange-red patch of feathers along their flanks.  Redwings are ground feeders and you can attract them to your garden by putting out sultanas (soaked first in water) or windfall apples (preferably cut in half).
More photos and info about Redwings here

Fancy a game of Angry Birds?  Elizabeth Close sent us this smashing shot of a Robin in her garden.  The bird had its beak wide open to try to accommodate a large piece of cheese.
More photos and info about Robins here

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